IPOH: National forward Mohd Haziq Shamsul bagged a hattrick to steer host Perak to a 3-2 win over Negri Sembilan in their opening Group B match of Division One at the Azlan Shah Stadium.
Haziq scored in the 31st, 38th and 66th minutes while Negri replied through former national junior Kavin Kartic in the 47th minute and Mohd Ismadi Alis in the dying minutes yesterday.
“We are just happy we managed to take all three points,” admitted Perak coach Mohd Nizam Mohd Hashim.
“There were too many defensive mistakes and we allowed them to stage a fightback. Our early goals helped but we must learn from our mistakes.
“Opening matches are always tough, but then we made it easy for them. We now have to be prepared for the other matches.”
In another Group B match, Johor held last year’s runners-up Police to a 4-4 draw in a see-saw match.
Police scored two penalty-corner goals through S. Baljit Singh (19th) and Mohd Razie Rahim (22nd) to go 2-0 up.
Johor hit back in the third quarter through national defender Faiz Hemy (26th), Mohd Adib Azim (37th) and Mohd Nor Hafiq Abdul Ghaffar (45th) to steal a 3-2 lead.
Police were not done yet. Baljit (50th) and Razie (57th) found the target to put Police 4-3 ahead.
Just when it seemed like Police had done enough to seal all three points, Nor Hafiq struck in the 59th minute to make sure both teams share the spoits.
Police coach Zul Khairi Ariffin admitted that they almost gave the match away with their mistakes.
“Our backline took it a little easy and paid the price. We led twice and we blew it. Still, we are happy that we aren’t going back empty-handed.
“This draw keeps us in the fight for a semi-final berth,” he said.